Sunday, December 27, 2009

Chennai (1) - Mumbai (0)

This morning, I read about Aditi and Aalif's struggle to register the birth of their newborn without providing any sort of religious identity. You can read about it here

This is precisely what I've been advocating vocally to my friends and other sundry folks for long. Why should the religion of parents be fostered upon the child? It is absurd that (like caste) a child should also acquire the religious identity of the parents. I've long felt that it is totally and utterly ridiculous, just like the actual concept of religion itself.

Imagine you consider yourself a devout Hindu today. In India's pseudo-tolerant society of today, you're probably then also a closet (or open) basher of other religious faiths. Yet, your own religious identity is a fluke of your birth. Just as you cannot choose your parents, you've not chosen your religion. You could have just as easily been born into a non-Hindu household and then you would have had a non-Hindu upbringing and a non-Hindu religious identity.

Religion as a concept seems very irrelevant to me. While I understand and appreciate the nature of excellent social work performed by religious organizations worldwide, the ultimate price that we've paid for it in today's society is huge.

Let's go back to Aditi and Aalif's quandary. I had the same issue when taking up mu first job. There was a column in the registration form for 'Religion'. I put down 'None'. Imagine my complete and utter frustration 2 years later when I found out that I was branded a Hindu by the folks in HR. Why? Because the SAP HR system in my company did not have an option for 'None'. And because I have what is a Hindu sounding name, some bozo in HR thought it appropriate to brand me as Hindu. I tried to get this reverted, but to no avail. And this was not some small fly-by-night IT operator. At that time, it was India's fourth largest software company. What was more incredulous is that this was in the private sector, and not some government body.

Interestingly, I dug up my birth certificate issued by the Corporation of Madras in 1983. There is no mention of any religion there. Actually, it does not even have my name printed on it! Are we moving backwards, or is the Mumbai Corporation just ages behind the Chennai Corporation? For more on how Chennai rocks, read this.

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